Daimler and BMW to invest €1bn in potential Uber rival

MyTaxi rebrands as Free Now as German carmakers unveil joint venture

Daimler chief executive Dieter Zetsche (right) with BMW chief executive Harald Krüger in Berlin on Friday. Photograph: John MacDougall / AFP

Daimler chief executive Dieter Zetsche (right) with BMW chief executive Harald Krüger in Berlin on Friday. Photograph: John MacDougall / AFP

 

German carmakers Daimler and BMW unveiled a joint ride-hailing, parking and electric car-charging business on Friday to compete with mobility services provided by Uber and other tech firms.

The luxury car firms said they would invest more than €1 billion to expand the joint venture, shifting beyond manufacturing and car sales towards pay-per-minute or pay-per-mile systems.

Consultancy PwC has said carmakers face marginalisation by cash-rich technology firms unless they develop services based on vehicle usage.

Established ride-hailing firms have been expanding. China’s Didi Chuxing aims to build its business in Latin America and Uber is gaining a stranglehold in its US market.

“Further co-operation with other providers, including stakes in start-ups and established players, are also a possible option,” Daimler’s chief executive Dieter Zetsche said.

Daimler’s Car2Go car-sharing brand will be combined with BMW’s Drive Now, Park Now and Charge Now businesses, with both carmakers holding 50 per cent stake in the venture.

The venture has five strands: Reach Now, a smartphone-based route management and booking service, Charge Now for electric car charging, Free Now for taxi ride-hailing, Park Now for parking services and Share Now for car-sharing.

MyTaxi rebrand

The move means that MyTaxi, which counts Daimler as its majority shareholder, will rebrand to Free Now.

The company sent an email to customers saying there would be no change to its service and app and that the new name would come into effect later this year via a standard app update.

It is the second rebrand in three years for the app, which was originally known as Hailo before Daimlier took its 60 per cent stake.

The other businesses in the Daimler-BMW joint venture – Share Now, Reach Now, Park Now and Charge Now – do not currently operate in Ireland.

“These five services will merge ever more closely to form a single mobility service portfolio with an all-electric, self-driving fleet of vehicles that charge and park autonomously,” said BMW chief executive Harald Krüger.

BMW and Daimler are working to develop autonomous cars, vehicles which could enable them to up-end the market for taxi and ride-hailing services. – Reuters.